Green Light to Re-open Bennerley Viaduct

Plans to bring Bennerley Viaduct back into use as a spectacular walkway high above across the Erewash Valley have been given the green light by both Erewash and Broxtowe Borough Councils. 

The Erewash Borough Council planning committee voted unanimously to pass the planning application stating it was a fantastic development which would become a brilliant asset to the area. They welcomed the positive impact the project would have on the health and wellbeing of the community. One councillor commented that we should all be proud of “Cotmanhay’s Eiffel Tower”.

Broxtowe Borough Council also fully supported the plans.

The grade 2* structure which straddles the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire border has been closed for the last 50 years. The project will carry out critical repairs to the structure and create access both on top of and underneath the viaduct. The viaduct will create an important link in the area’s extensive trail network connecting the Erewash and Nottingham Canals.

Commenting on the decision, Bill Tomson from Railway Paths, the Viaduct’s owners said “These decisions are a real milestone in Bennerley Viaduct’s history. We are delighted with the outcome. The project will bring a historic structure back into use and encourage walking and cycling in an inspirational location.”

Jeff Wynch, the chair of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct stated:  “We are delighted with the decisions from both Councils which enable this exciting initiative to move forwards. The project will create new opportunities for active recreation and enjoyment and will extend the life of the viaduct for future generations to enjoy. We are grateful to the councils, owners and funders who share our vision to bring this iconic structure back into public use.”

Paul Miller, the chair of the Ilkeston and District History Society said: “This is fantastic news. The viaduct is a locally and nationally important structure. It is a tribute to the ingenuity of our Victorian engineers and the awesome endeavours of 19th century railway pioneers. The decision to bring this historic structure back to life for the community to enjoy is one which we welcome wholeheartedly.”

Although a large proportion of the funding has been raised, there is still a shortfall.  Over the next few months, The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct will be busy fundraising to enable the community to contribute to the viaduct’s future and have a real stake in the project. The construction and access works are due to start this Autumn with the reopening taking place in 2020.


Bennerley Viaduct Project secures National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant.

The charity Railway Paths Ltd has received confirmation that The National Lottery Heritage Fund will contribute £99,500 towards the Bennerley Viaduct project. The project aims to repair and restore the historic structure and make it accessible for the public to use and enjoy and will be delivered by the viaduct’s owners Railway Paths Ltd with support from the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct and Sustrans.

The project is planned to start in August with works starting in Autumn and continuing through to Spring 2020.

As well as the generous support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, financial support for the project to enable it to happen has been secured from the following organisations:

  • Railway Heritage Trust
  • Historic England
  • HB Allen Charitable Trust
  • Charles Hayward Foundation
  • Pilgrim Trust
  • Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Railway Ramblers

Commenting on the award, Jeff Wynch, Chair of the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct said: “We would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund and all the other bodies that have provided the financial support for this project to go ahead. Railway Paths Ltd are to be congratulated on developing a plan which will fulfil the long-held hopes of the Erewash Valley communities to restore, preserve and celebrate this major example of Victorian engineering.”

World Monument Fund visit Viaduct

Left to Right: Ben Daykin, Sarah Meaker, John Darlington, Paul Miller, Bill Tomson

John Darlington, the Chief Executive of the World Monuments Fund (Britain) and Sarah Meaker WMF Outreach Manager visit Bennerley following an application by the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct (FoBV) for the structure to be considered as a World Monument Watch 2020 site. The 2020 World Monuments Watch will include 25 sites from around the world in need of urgent action, each site telling a local story that carries global significance. Through the Watch, World Monuments Fund will partner with local stakeholders to design and implement targeted activities—including advocacy, planning, education, and conservation interventions in the historic built environment. Paul Miller, Ben Daykin and Kieran Lee from the FoBV showed the guests around the structure and Bill Tomson from Railway Paths Ltd, explained details of the current planning application to reopen the viaduct.

Viaduct set to reopen for the first time in 50 years

Plans to restore the viaduct and bring it back into use as a walking and cycling trail moved a giant step forwards with the submission of planning applications to Broxtowe and Erewash Borough Councils. Full details of the planning application can be found on both the Broxtowe and Erewash Planning websites.

Erewash Reference Number: ERE/419/0062 and ERE/419/0061

Broxtowe Reference Number 19/00093/FUL and 19/00094/LBC

Planning Application Submitted to reopen Viaduct

Image by Paul Atherley

A planning application to restore and reopen Bennerley Viaduct has been submitted to Broxtowe and Erewash Borough Councils. The plans include carrying out critical repairs to the structure and creating access on and underneath the viaduct. The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct extend thanks and appreciation to the owners, Railway Paths Ltd and to the local and wider community for the incredible support given to the project. Details of the application can be found here (See Planning Application)

Links to an article in the Nottingham Evening Post is also attached. See article

Full Steam Ahead

Its all systems go for the Viaduct. Nearly £0.5m has been secured, a planning application has been submitted and if the remaining funds are secured, we are looking for work to start later this year. Our thanks go to Bill Tomson at RPL who has done a phenomenal job putting bids together for funders and putting the planning application together.

October Newsletter

If you get the chance over the next few weeks, take a visit to the viaduct, as the Autumn colours are currently looking quite magnificent, especially in the early morning or late evening light.  We are so lucky to be living in an area with such a rich industrial and natural heritage.

A lot of activity has been taking place behind the scenes since the last newsletter. The project is moving forwards again. I currently feel a real sense of optimism and excitement at the way that the project is taking shape.

I hope to see some of you at the meeting on Monday. Details included below. Our next newsletter will be coming out in December, if you want anything included, please forward items of news to me by email.

Happy Reading

With best wishes


Open Meeting: The Gate Inn Awsworth

The next open meeting will take place at the Gate Inn, Main St, Awsworth,  NG16 2RN on Monday October 15th at 7:00pm.  There will be three main strands on which we will need to move forwards. These are:

  1. Project Update: There will be a detailed update on the Railway Paths led plan to carry out critical repairs and access.
  2. A Shared Vision for Bennerley Viaduct: At the last meeting, there was support for the idea of the FoBV taking increased ownership of an expanded project. Kieran will be delivering an illustrated presentation which aims to give shape and structure to what we hope will be the basis of an agreed FoBV vision.
  3. An Appropriate Structure We need to create an appropriate structure for the group and to develop its capacity to deliver an ambitious project. We are currently looking towards converting the FoBV into  a Charitable Incorporated Organisation CIO. (We are grateful to the many individuals and organisations who are advising and guiding us through this process.)
An agenda for the meeting is attached. (Click here) If you missed the previous meeting, unverified minutes of the meeting of August 13th are attached. Click here  We look forward to seeing you.  Members and Non members welcome.
Critical Repairs and Access:
Railway Paths Ltd, the owners of the viaduct are developing a plan to carry out critical repairs and create access to the deck of the viaduct.  A planning application will be submitted this Autumn to both Erewash and Broxtowe Borough Councils. Surveying work has been undertaken, discussions are taking place with landowners and relevant organisations. The FoBV is giving this project its full backing and support. We would like to acknowledge and thank Bill Tomson, the project manager from Railway Paths Ltd for his work and commitment to the project. Click the button  below for more details of the plans and proposals
Read more
Above Snap – Time. Volunteers making a Difference

Saturday Workdays:
The current RPL led project will create lots of opportunities for people to volunteer and contribute to the project. The Friends Group will be taking out its own public liability insurance enabling us to restore Saturday workdays. We look forward to announcing in the very near future when these workdays will commence as we achieved a great deal in 2016 and 2017. Tasks in the new project will include the removal of all ballast from the viaduct, linseed oil treatment of the structure, vegetation management, pathway creation and many more tasks. In the meantime, there will be a Sustrans Greener Greenways led workday under the viaduct on Wednesday October 24th.
For further details click here
Linseed Oil and Viaducts!!
Linseed oil is usually associated with cricket bats but soon we may all be linking linseed oil with Bennerley Viaduct.  Recent research by Dr Dave Gent has indicated that the life of wrought iron structures like the viaduct can be significantly extended if coated with linseed oil.  An added benefit is that the oil is a non toxic, natural product so it can be applied by non specialists. When our volunteer workdays recommence, one of the important tasks that we will undertake will be the application of oil to the reachable parts of structure. Our thanks go to Dr David Gent for conducting the research and identifying a strategy to preserve the viaduct. If you want to know more about this fascinating research, click below.
Read More
Above: Visitors to Bennerley Viaduct contribute to the visitor economy.

The Visitor Economy
The rich industrial and natural heritage of Bennerley Viaduct and its surroundings is beginning to draw in visitors from all over the country. Recently, the Association for Industrial Archaeology had their annual conference at Nottingham University. The Friends of Bennerley Viaduct delivered a presentation  to the conference, followed by a guided walk on, under and around the structure. The group “greatly enjoyed” the visit.  In addition, the viaduct is increasingly becoming a venue for companies running heritage related tourism.  The visitor economy has the potential to bring in much needed trade to the area.
Explosions in the Canal!!

One of the delights of showing people around the viaduct is listening to the stories they tell. Recently, Ann Munsey a retired teacher from Bennerley School visited the viaduct with a Heritage Tour Company. She entertained us with stories of potassium explosions in the canal and pupils coming back to the school with grass snakes which they had caught under the viaduct. Anne put these stories down on paper and these were published in the Ilkeston Times. Ann was known as Miss Veni when she taught at the school. Thank you Ann for this entertaining bit of local history. To read the amusing account, click below.
Read More

Membership: As we approach the end of the year, this will be the time for members to renew their annual subscription at the bargain basement price of £5 for the year. Reminder letters will be coming out and we will try to ensure that there is a simple way for members to renew online.

Treasurer: Steve, our treasurer has moved up to the Lakes but he is continuing with the task until we can find a replacement. It would be absolutely wonderful if someone could step forwards to take on the role for a year. You would be taking on a key role within the group and this can be satisfying knowing that you are making a real difference. Help and support will be given if you think you could take on this role.

Trustees: We may be converting into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. If we do agree to take this route, we will be needing to appoint trustees to guide and steer the charity. We will disseminate information on the role of trustees later as we get to know more about the working operation of CIOs. There may be the opportunity in the future for you to make a valued contribution to the project by becoming a trustee.

Bennerley Viaduct Presentations

We are happy to deliver presentations on the fascinating history of Bennerley Viaduct to groups within the area. We have a large collection of images, stories, anecdotes related to the viaduct which we are happy to share at illustrated presentations. We have all the neccessary projection equipment which was purchased using a community grant from Erewash Borough Council. All we ask for is for a donation to the FoBV to help us with the project. If your group would like a presentation, contact Kieran Lee to arrange times and dates.